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Famine possibly gripping north Gaza despite new aid efforts: report

FILE - Palestinians line up to receive meals at Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, March 18, 2024
FILE - Palestinians line up to receive meals at Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, March 18, 2024 Copyright Mahmoud Essa/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Mahmoud Essa/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Famine exists when 20% of households are essentially starving; at least 30% of children suffer wasting; and two adults or four children per every 10,000 people are dying daily of hunger and its complications.

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Experts have warned famine is possibly under way in northern Gaza, despite recent aid efforts.

"It is possible, if not likely,” the independent group known as the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said about famine in Gaza.

The Israeli military, which is responsible for the allowing humanitarian assistance into Gaza, did not immediately comment on their report.

Fighting between Israel and Hamas, alongside restrictions on international access, have hampered efforts to collect data in the area that could allow a formal declaration of famine, however.

Concerns about deadly hunger have soared in recent months. They spiked after the head of the World Food Program (WFP) last month said northern Gaza had entered “full-blown famine”, following nearly seven months of devastating war.

WFP director Cindy McCain warned mass starvation was "moving its way south", where the vast majority of Gaza's population has fled the fighting.

Human Rights Watch in December alleged Israel was using starvation as a "weapon of war", calling this a "war crime". Israel has denied such allegations.

FILE - Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in southern Israel, Thursday, March 14, 2024.
FILE - Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip pass through the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in southern Israel, Thursday, March 14, 2024.Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2024 The AP All rights reserved

Famine is said to exist in an area when three things occur: 20% of households have an extreme lack of food, or are essentially starving; at least 30% of the children suffer from acute malnutrition or wasting, meaning they’re too thin for their height; and two adults or four children per every 10,000 people are dying daily of hunger and its complications.

That's according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a collection of UN agencies, governments and other bodies that have previously warned of imminent famine in northern Gaza.

Tuesday’s report by FEWS NET is the first technical assessment by an international organisation saying famine is possibly stalking northern Gaza.

But the data must be there for a formal declaration of famine.

Such a declaration could be used as evidence at the International Criminal Court as well as at the International Court of Justice, where Israel faces allegations of genocide.

Famine concerns will grow - unless war ends

The report cautioned that data collection would likely be impeded as long as the war continued. It said people — including children — are dying of hunger-related causes across the Palestinian enclave.

These conditions will likely persist until at least July, if there isn’t a fundamental change in how food aid is distributed, it added.

The report also cautioned that current efforts to increase aid into Gaza are insufficient, and called on Israel's government to act urgently.

The UN and international aid agencies for months have said not enough food or other humanitarian supplies are entering Gaza, and Israel faces mounting pressure from top ally the US and others to let in more aid.

Israel has repeatedly denied there is famine underway in Gaza and rejected allegations it has used hunger as a weapon in its war against the militant Hamas group.

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